So, I have a friend. And this friend is working to simplify her life, has been for years.
She has purged her family’s belongings, simplified their calendar, got out of debt, adopted green cleaning, got rid of all but her most wearable clothes and, more recently, started trying natural body products.
She’s doing OK.
But she feels bad because, well, there’s more to change.
There’s always more to change.
She still drinks coffee from her (gasp!) Nespresso machine.
She still gets her hair coloured.
She enjoys travelling to far-flung places.
She buys organic denim.
She eats non-organic food.
She is a fan of a gutsy shiraz.
And she feels bad about some of these things.
Not so much because there is anything wrong with buying quality jeans or drinking red wine (there’s a First World sentence right there) but because she feels that, in her quest to live simply, she should be all or nothing. That something worth doing is worth doing right.
me her, I say – nope.
What is “doing simplicity right” anyway? What does that look like?
To some people it’s living in an RV or a tiny house, while to others it’s living in the country and creating a self-sustaining home.
To some people it’s going digital and using technology to remove as much physical stuff as possible, while to others it’s completely eschewing modern gadgetry in place of old-fashioned pen, paper and ink.
To some people it’s DIY everything, while to others it’s fair-trade, locally-grown, support the farmers/growers/brewers/makers/roasters.
To many more, however, simplicity lies somewhere in the middle.
It’s cutting back our belongings, growing some tomatoes and line-drying our clothes.
It’s getting our bills and statements delivered via email, digitising our photos, signing up to Spotify and keeping a journal.
It’s mending our clothes, making our own laundry detergent, shopping locally, buying secondhand.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s enough just to do what you can.
I really believe that this idea of all or nothing – we need to be super-crunchy/ultra-minimalist/hardcore homeschoolers/insert your stereotype here in order to do simple living right – is harming our ability to step up and try something new.
For me, it’s all about baby steps. Often those baby steps will lead to bigger things. But sometimes they won’t. And that’s OK.
What’s not OK is sitting by and doing nothing when what you crave is a simpler, slower, more contented life. If that’s what you want, then ignore the voice that tells you it needs to be all or nothing, and take a step.
Just one, tiny, baby step.
- Clean out your car
- Buy your fruit and vegetables at the farmers market
- Check the op shop before buying that thing you need from a big box store
- Opt to receive your bank statements via email
- Use white vinegar to clean your kitchen benchtops
- Declutter the utensil drawer
- Say no to a plastic bag
- Eat a meat-free meal
- Smile at a stranger
- Go do some colouring with your kids
- Say no to a social engagement
Every one of these baby steps has an impact on the life you live. And while it’s not the same as upping sticks and moving to the country, or selling your home and travelling in an RV, these steps matter.
Each change, each step, each little shift in the way we do things makes a difference. And – not to sound too Pollyanna here – but I do believe that if each of us made small changes where possible, we could actually start to shift the world.
You can do something. We can do something.
It doesn’t need to be all or nothing.